A Sacramento street gang member and his girlfriend were both sentenced to life terms without possibility of parole today for the shooting death of an innocent woman at a party in Elk Grove three years ago.
Raymond Thomas Vigel, now 23, and Tamara Nicole Bassett, 26, also were sentenced to three additional life terms for the attempted murder of three other party goers who were struck by gunfire in the shooting that took place around 1 a.m. on April 19, 2009.
Alison Joelle Freeseha, 25, the truck-driving mother of two small children, was killed when Vigel aimed and fired 10 shots into a garage on Paseo Del Sol Way.
According to evidence at trial, Bassett earlier in the evening got into a fight at the party. She then stormed away with a threat that she would be coming back with her gang-member boyfriend who would kill everybody who was there.
Bassett picked up Vigel in her car and drove him back to the party, where every one of his 10 gunshots struck somebody in the garage. One man was paralyzed in the shooting and a second suffered severe abdominal injuries that nearly killed him.
Stephen Benetti, the victim who was shot in the stomach, angrily told the convicted defendants he hoped they spent the rest of their lives in misery.
"In my opinion, you both are trash," Benetti told Bassett and Vigel.
Freeseha's mother, Valerie Van Houten, forgave the two and said she would pray for them. As she spoke, Bassett and Vigil sat impassively.
"I don't know what's in their hearts," Van Houten said.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Ernest W. Sawtelle said he would not direct his sentencing remarks to the defendants because the words would be "wasted."
Instead, he encouraged the families of the victims to "engage in the world."
"Honor the dead, honor the wounded, in the way you live your life," Sawtelle said.
Vigel was sentenced twice today. He was convicted on the murder charge and one of the attempted murder counts in January 2011, but the jury in the first trial failed to reach verdicts on two of the attempted murder counts against. The first jury could not reach verdicts on any of the counts on Bassett.
Judge Greta Curtis Fall, who presided over the first trial, called Vigel's actions "cowardly." In responding to victims' statements that Vigel had shown no remorse throughout the case, Fall said that after watching him in her trial, "I woudln't expect any from this defendant."
Photo caption: Tamara Bassett, left, and Raymond Vigel, right, of Sacramento listen to Sacramento Superior Court Judge Ernest W. Sawtelle as he begins the sentencing face of their trial. The two were convicted in the 2009 shooting death of Alison Joelle Freeseha, 25, at a party in Sacramento. Both were sentenced to life terms without the possibility of parole. Photo by Hector Amezcua / firstname.lastname@example.org
Video caption: Clips from today's verdict of Tamara Bassett and Raymond Vigel. Video by Hector Amezcua.